3D simulation is gaining ground in product development. Many companies are currently experimenting with designing their collections or parts thereof using 3D simulation software. The technology will become the standard of the future and change the whole fashion industry.

"Nothing in automotive design today works without 3D simulation," says Dr. Andreas Seidl, CEO of Human Solutions. "I firmly believe we will see the same development in the apparel industry." He knows what he is talking about; Human Solutions has specialized in these two branches of industry and helped develop 3D technology for BMW, for example, years ago. The essential advantage: higher speed, lower costs, better products.

The first fashion companies are already convinced of this and have developed their first 3D collections or converted product groups to 3D, as presented at the Fashion Forum 2018 in Munich in July. Decathlon, for example, started its first trials four years ago and can now save four months in product development. An essential aid is that the fabric quality can be reproduced realistically in the design. "We used to need three samples," says Audrey Renard of Decathlon. Especially when choosing colors, Decathlon could not do without samples, the designer continues. "With the introduction of 3D we were able to reduce to two, today we need almost no samples because the colors can be reliably selected on the screen.” This is helped by the fact that colors are now digitized and can therefore be precisely determined, displayed and ordered. X-Rite, Pantone's mother, is also working on simulating the mechanical properties of fabrics for even better presentation and fit assessment.

While today's product development processes often run under great time pressure, 3D technology gives time again for more creativity. "We have found that this makes better products possible," says Roland Schuler of International Brands Company, a subsidiary of Peek & Cloppenburg Düsseldorf and responsible for developing its own brands. It used to take the team nine to 15 months to develop three samples and yet the result wasn't always what he wanted. "Today we are much faster and more creative and have a lot of interaction in the office with the individual designs. This gives us better products, better sales and fewer mark-downs," Schuler continues.

S.Oliver has already gone one step further and developed a digital showroom based on the 3D collections. s.Oliver not only simulates the individual articles of the collection in 3D, but also their presentation in a virtual shop or showroom. In 2008, s.Oliver purchased the first license for 3D product development, since 2016 it is officially in use, and in 2019 all product groups are to be created with it. "The goal is also to digitize the collection handover and present the collection to the retailers via VR glasses," explains Thomas Herbert of s.Oliver. The goal: Showrooms are then no longer necessary. The same with trade shows.

Further applications are obvious: the integration of 3D models into the online shop, which eliminates expensive photo shoots, fit simulations via avatars, and ultimately the aim is to create the basis for more automation in production through to 3D printing.  


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